Modest Midget: Crysis

Eccentric, style-hopping prog from Holland.

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In an ambitious, at times bewildering record, this Dutch band portray a spread of different life ‘cycles’ and experiences (birth, teenage views, lust).

The explanatory notes for A Centurion’s Itchy Belly invite us to remember the Asterix depiction of the Roman army. Indeed, its not difficult to imagine little Gauls bouncing around to the ‘Romanian prog’ accordion therein. Or to the unabashedly crackers Now That We’re Here (like a panto score by Rick Wakeman). Which makes the soft, sweetened tones elsewhere surprising. Periscope Down would sit perfectly in a ‘coming-of-age’ indie film, and Gone Is boasts a pretty, progressive indie-pop tune, complete with lovelorn melody, beautifully naive vocals and gentle electronic touches. It’s quite lovely, and makes things like an Eastern Bloc prog cover of Pretty Woman (yes, really) seem even stranger. Sensational Alex Harvey Band-esque guitar follows in Secret Lies, and the quirky Flight Of The Cockroach falls somewhere between ELP and the Super Mario soundtrack.

In following these diverse scenarios and mini-stories, they sound like about five different bands. That makes for a slightly disparate album, but it’s still a great slice of bizarro prog escapism.